We’re about halfway through winter now – six weeks away from garden season (for us).
So, how am I doing on that Winter To Do List I published last fall? Not so bad, I guess. But it’s been amended quite a bit.
* First, I can say that tobacco is gone from this house. No snuff for Frank, no cigarettes for me. We have our eGo nicotine vaporizers, and we make our own juice, and the conversion from smoke to vapor is complete. Some people argue that we’re still addicted to nicotine, and I would agree. But this switch has still been a big step that has made noticeable differences in our lives.
(See previous post to get the basics on our vapes & where to get them locally here.)
It’s been about 3 months now since I quit smoking. Within a week, coughing and phlegm levels decreased. Over time, my senses of smell and taste really tuned back in. There aren’t ash trays and spit cups all around the house. It’s been a real improvement in our lives.
* I have also been working yoga back into my life pretty well. It’s not that hard, since my body almost screams for it after several days without these stretches.I’m in my forties now, and stiffness, kinks and little glitches are all part of the game at this point. Sciatica is a big one, arthritis in the left middle finger is a new frustration. There are stretches that can almost eliminate the symptoms of both of these ailments. And I can tell if I go too long without doing them.
I’ve tried several different routes for learning, memorizing and maintaining the practice of yoga – VHS tapes, mobile apps, different books. What I found that has helped me the most was a simple sample routine of stretches found in the appendix of the book, “New Choices in Natural Healing.”
I really love this book. One of a dozen books in my library on natural and holistic remedies, this one is like an Encyclopedia of ailments and different remedies. It includes directions for light therapy, hydrotherapy, sound therapy – and all the more ‘common’ holistic practices. New copies of this book are available on Amazon for ONE DOLLAR, and used copies are as low as A PENNY A PIECE! Worth the price in my opinion! Here’s your link to get yours:
Yoga is about stretching and breathing. Sounds fairly simple, and actually it is. People imagine body contortions with chants and humming. It doesn’t have to be that way.
When I started the yoga stretches this past fall, I was really surprised in the limited range I had. A month or two without the sunny month gardening tasks, I could not believe how rigid my muscles had become. But now, after about nine weeks of stretching just twice a week in the evenings, I can reach my toes, get my head to my knees, etc. Balance is improved, as is my sleep and my stress level. You could benefit from just sitting and deep breathing for just a few minutes each morning and evening.
On the music front, it’s down to baby steps. I was determined to learn guitar. Then the arthritis thing came on, and I decided I’d relearn the piano keyboard. Then, I realized I’d forgotten how to read music, and I had to relearn that. So now, I’m reading the instruction book for a keyboard, and I’m using a mobile app on my tablet to refresh my music reading skills.
I did manage to get about a third of the album collection converted to Mp3 before the holidays arrived, and the turntable and albums were hidden behind the presents under the Christmas tree when company arrived. I’ve been eying that project pile thinking it’s time to get back to that.
I have been singing more. Frank got a roll of speaker wire for Christmas, and reworked some of the lines running throughout the house. Now, we have Pandora all over. I can sing in the bathtub again – where I do my best performances, of course. I also copied all my new Mp3′s I made from my albums to a jump drive I have plugged into the Pioneer stereo in our little holler hopper. All those songs I forgot I knew all the words to. It’s amazing how after 15-20 years (or more) I can still automatically sing along. If only reading music had stuck as well as the lyrics of the 70′s.
I do have to say that the sewing bug has NOT kicked in this winter at all. I had in mind to make three quilts – none of which I have started. I did finish the denim quilt I started last winter and never finished, but I’ve not moved on to any new there since then. I may or may not before the garden calls me back. We’ll see.
I’ve experienced a few bursts from my Creative Writing Muse. She only visits rarely, that retched girl. But she’s popped in three times so far this winter. I’ve started a short story, a long story, and popped out a pretty good haiku the other day:
Spring is the football
Mother Nature is Lucy
And we’re Charlie Brown
The Research Writing Muse has been around quite a bit in recent weeks. I’m planning to start a medicinal herb bed this spring, dividing the perennials I have, investing in more – and incorporating an area for garlic, asparagus, and horseradish. So my mind has brought me back around to my holistic and herbal treatment books, where I often find simple, effective relief for ailments people suffer needlessly with. Alternative options that can be more affordable, more reliable, more accessible than through “American Medicine.” Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed to share the information I find.
I’m thinking, actually, of writing a series of columns. One on herbal remedies for moods and mental issues. I’m reluctant to start the print series though. I am not sure I’m up to the task of a monthly series. My column is the last thing written for each issue every month, most often shot from the hip the night before our press deadline. And, I may need more space for these installments that print will allow. They may need to be published online instead – then perhaps compiled into ebooklets….
I’m also planning some “educational posts” for this blog. One on healing with water; another on healing with sound. Ways to heal your mind, and heal your own spirit – with holistic practices.
What are your thoughts? Are you interested in holistic treatments for some all-too-common ailments? Want to learn about some interesting and under-recognized methods of healing?
“Get Organized” is always on my To Do List. I had hoped to get the craft area organized this winter – I haven’t even gone near it. I did however, reorganize my desk area, and much of my clothes closet. Frank and I have gotten much better tag-teaming the dishes, but laundry still lags far too long at the clean-but-needs-folded-and-put-away stage.
All the recent hub bub about guns brought me to clean out the gun cabinet and take inventory. At the time, I thought I’d clean everything, so I ordered a cleaning kit from an Amazon.com seller. That was a month ago – we’re still working out what has happened to it during shipping.
I suppose ordering checks and office supplies is part of organizing, but I can’t do those things yet because of a proposed E911 Address change for us. Facebook followers know much of our saga – this would be our 4th change since the whole E911 thing started. I’ll be appearing before the county commission this Tuesday to get it settled and speak my piece. (Oy.) Once that’s settled I can finish that tidbit on the to do list.
I have managed to switch the twolanelivin.com theme to a responsive design that will automatically “flex” to fit smaller screens readers may be using. The switchover was not without its glitches, nor is the site currently glitch free. The new theme mandated an upgrade to the program I use – so everything is just a littttle different than before. It will take me a while to adjust. I’m still adjusting to the new keyboard I have, after I choked on my coffee and fried the one I’ve been using for seven years…
Of course, it’s also tax time. Of course, some might say “It’s only February.” But it takes me a good bit to get all of our receipts in order. I have my own process of sorting and recording – I think to make sure I understand fully and don’t make any mistakes. I’m not the best of friends with numbers, so I have to push my connection to really process it all. I have an annual routine that helps me grasp it, understand what it all means, and then plan accordingly.
Once the taxes are done, I’m going to start work on the mobile app I originally thought we’d have launched last fall. All the planning is done, and general concepts defined — it’s just getting it all in place in the actual app, and getting it rolling. I’m super excited about this app and for what it will be for our region, but I’m also intimidated by my total lack of familiarity with apps, and my basic knowledge of coding. I’m realllllly hoping to have it test running by May. (Knock on wood.)
This year is really looking up for the magazine. We have several corporate clients interested in working with and supporting us this year, and we’re set to ride the mobile wave as it builds in West Virginia. If I can find a WordPress-knowledgeable freelancer, we may be able to take our online level even further. But, I don’t want to get too far ahead of reality here.
It’s February. What could be happening with the garden?
Well, I have several things rolling already. We have sweet potatoes in mason jars in the windows downstairs, growing sprouts already. Looks like the potato patch will be a good size this year. I also had to do a seed inventory check when the seed catalogs started to arrive. I had to assess what we need. Then, I studied three independent, organic seed catalogs – all new to me because I discovered that our typical seed source had been bought out by corporate agribusiness. I had to find new sources.
The temptation to try new things overwhelms me when I go through seed catalogs. And while I may stick to my tried and true favorites of tomato, beans, peas, cabbage and lettuces – I am prone to wander when it comes to corn, squash, and carrots. I also want to grow more things to be mixed in with the chicken feed, like Sorghum, Amaranth, and a wider variety of sunflower seed. I have ordered a seed collection of flowers just for the bees as well.
It won’t be long before we can sow lettuces and peas outside….
I haven’t wasted the winter so far, but I have not come anywhere near my high hopes for the season’s projects. Still, I can see progress never the less. But health and business seem to have overwhelmed the creative efforts at this point.
I’ll have to “work” on that.
I read with a pen (or two) in my hand. I don’t like to borrow books, because I just can’t enjoy reading a book without highlighting and underlining bits and pieces as I go. More than once I’ve “color-coded” a borrowed book, and had to purchase a new copy to return to the owner.
About ten years ago, I bought “Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design.” Its about 600 pages. At the time, I read the chapters that interested me (with a green highlighter), and moved on to the rest of my “self-improvement” collection.
But two years ago, I came back around to it. I read it from cover to cover (orange highlighter this time), and even completed some of the exercises that fall at the end of each chapter. During this second, unabridged reading, the light bulb came on. I found answers I was seeking.
I never have put the book away. I laid it on my desk, and each day, I flip through the pages to see what lies there, highlighted in orange or green. I post quotes from the book in my facebook status often – perhaps too often — but folks out there seem to identify…
The book has chapters on discovering the great ideas of your life, finding your purpose, doing for others, our socialized training, our need for approval — and how these things, are key to finding that bliss. Finding that “thing” we’re all dreaming is out there. The key is to find it within.
One of the highlighted tidbits that I stumbled upon today was, “only compare yourself to yourself.”
My 25th high school reunion is this year. It would be easy to spend time wallowing as I compare myself to those in my class. Some have recently adopted darling babies. Others are “bonafide” artists, some have that white picket fence. Some are sunning themselves on white beaches as I dodge piles of poop in the chicken pen as I collect eggs. And yet, some view my life with wishful thinking and as though it is quite interesting.
When we started Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine three years ago, I began picking up every other publication I could get my hands on to compare the pros and cons. I drooled over their glossy covers, oohed and aahed at the colors in their professional photography. Lost myself in the tales of their well-paid freelance writers.
For you internet readers who’ve never seen TLL in print? We’re a tabloid magazine on newsprint. As far as the realm of printing goes — we’re one step up from Kinko’s. Our cover photos are submitted by readers, our columnists are volunteers.
And they’re wonderful. Just wonderful. And at the end of each month, 16,000 print copies (actually 17,000 the last two months) are GONE. ALL GONE. But, I see many of those other publications are still there, gathering dust.
You see, it’s only when I try to compare TLL to what others are doing that I feel inadequate. When I realize that I’m not at Panera Bread somewhere urban typing on my laptop and talking into a blackberry like so many others in this field of media and marketing, that I feel — not good enough.
I have a twitter account that I grudgingly maintain because — anyone who was anyone in media had a twitter account. I get writer’s block for this blog a lot because these days, your blog is supposed to be a marketing or networking tool. Frank and I attended a conference where we entered a resort full of what Frank dubbed “pod people” because we appeared to be the only to there who weren’t plugged into something via wires or wire less. It was like that dream you had when you showed up to school naked. I felt I had shown up on a job with the wrong tools.
But this 25-year reflection and the thought to compare myself only to myself…
I’ve come a long way baby.
Twenty-five (six) years ago, I couldn’t even make the high school newspaper staff.
Twenty-three years ago, I was a college drop out.
Twenty-one years ago, I was a licensed beautician.
Eighteen years ago, I was a waitress, working nights, earning my two-year degree.
Seventeen years ago, I was a bartender, and in spite of my drinking, and an abusive relationship, earned my four-year degree.
Fourteen years ago, I was unemployed, chronically depressed, and was afraid to leave my house.
Twelve years ago, I was writing instructions for magic tricks and ghost-wrote two books on magic.
Ten years ago, I was working in a wholesale magic company in Chicago.
Nine years ago, my entire year’s income came from selling on eBay.
Eight years ago, I was working on a college public relations department.
Six years ago, I was an award winning newspaper reporter for a small town paper.
And now, I have this “little” country paper that folks seem to like.
When I compare myself now to the myselves of then — I can see the “before and after” of me, and I feel relieved that, as a kumquat, I don’t have to compare myself to apples and oranges.
When you compare yourself only to yourself, the “haves and have-nots” disappear. The lines of accomplishment become multi-dimensional and more spiritual than career-oriented. The distances we’ve come as individuals shortens the distance between us as human beings.
The term “not yet good enough” becomes “still progressing towards perfection.”
In our education, socialization, in business and career development — so often we are told to “look what others are doing” and to compare ourselves to them.
Most of our lives, we’ve been taught to fear ridicule, and to compare our actions to others to adopt the “correct” behavior. While this does serve a purpose for making us into functional beings in society, in many ways, it disconnects us from being aware of our own journey towards purpose, towards self-acceptance. It diverts us from, in the end, finding our bliss.
My life, my choices, my nature and my personality made me a kumquat in this big fruit bowl of life.
And when I compare myself to myself, my only duty is to become the best kumquat I can be.
Appearing today on The Hur Herald (www.hurherald.com)
Resolutions or Goals?
It’s been years since I’ve made any New Year resolutions. I don’t much care for the idea of starting over. Some like to look at the New Year as a fresh start. Well, I’ve made plans, I don’t want to go back to scratch. For me the turnover to a new year is a time to reassess the goals I have already established.
In early 2006, Frank and I set a long-term goal to simplify our way of living and become more self-reliant. For us, this is the path we have chosen to pursue our happiness. Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine; our “super sized” garden; farming; my experiments with canning, freezing, raising chickens, baking bread; our studies into earth and body friendly resources; practices of budgeting and saving and recycling – all of these are attempts to “simplify” our lifestyles.
Unless you were raised that way, simple living is anything but simple. In order to be “self-reliant,” your life schedule comes under the control of daylight and dark, the whims of seasons, the influences of the clouds and the sun. Meeting times are set by chickens and projects are planned around planting, weeding, watering, and harvest.
In college, I studied writing and literature, not herbs and livestock. I may be able to quote Shakespeare, but I cannot tell you the germination period for a tomato seed. You have to study, learn, practice and polish simple living skills to reach the goal of self-sufficiency, and I feel, in many ways, I’m just getting started.
1. Learn About and Launch Hot Beds: Frank and I learned last year in our first “serious” garden that vegetables like carrots, beets, etc. really need to be planted early. Also, we don’t want to wait until spring to have fresh leaf lettuce. We know that hot beds can help us get an early start and more fruitful harvest, but I know very little about how hot beds work or how to manage them.
2. Study Compost, Fertilizer and Earthworms: In an attempt to increase the quality of our soil, we began a compost pile last year. In addition, this year, we have what we need to “farm earthworms.” While these things may not seem related, the soil the worms will be living in will be excellent for our garden, and we might sell some worms for fisherman. Worms can double their population in less than three months. Of course, I know very little about raising worms, and I haven’t quite gotten full control over the compost pile, but I can continue my studies and practice.
3. Expand the Herb Garden: I started an herb garden last year, mostly from plants given to me by friends. It did fairly well until the rabbits, chickens and deer found it. Even so, I have herbs dried and frozen and I use them in my breads, teas and other dishes. But, I need to fill out the selection I have, and I need to get a fence around it. I will master what I’ve learned about drying and freezing them, and maybe next year I’ll learn to make salves, vinegars, oils and tinctures. But right now, I just want to master keeping them alive.
4. Get More Hens: I’ve been the parent of four hens for eight months now. We call them “The Ladies.” DeeDee, Ellemby, Pepper and Red provided eggs for Frank and I, my mother, my aunt and uncle all summer and fall. If I get four more, I can supply more friends and family, and maybe work through the process to sell some at the farmer’s market with excess herbs and vegetables from our gardens.
These four goals are some early 2010 goals for the land around us. We also have goals for the house, goals for the business, goals for our health, goals for our minds and our mentality. So much can be done in a year, the possibilities are overwhelming.
It helps me focus, organize and plan if I reassess my goals instead of making resolutions. For me, it’s the difference between promises made from scratch, and simply maintaining our set path.
It helps me remember that I’m already part-way there.
I remember when the term “multi-tasking” emerged. America began celebrating the human ability to do more than one thing at a time. Talking on the phone while doing the dishes became “multi-tasking.” And then, it seems, the race was on to see who could do the MOST things at one time.
It seems that talking on the phone while doing dishes is fairly safe. However, talking on the phone while driving? Well — in many places, that’s against the law.
I am a “task-oriented” person. That means, when I’m into a task, I’m really into it. At that moment, there ARE no other tasks. But, the world now expects us ALL to multi-task, scoffing, “Can’t you do more than one thing at a time?”
The answer is this — for me and for all of you as well:
NOT IF YOU WANT ME TO GIVE IT MY UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.
NOT IF YOU WANT ME TO GIVE 100%.
Sure, there are things in life that don’t need 100% attention. Dishes, for example. It’s not like a dirty dish is going to jump out in front of you and bring that frantic scrubbing to a screeching halt.
Obviously, driving needs a high percentage of your attention. Sometimes, it’s easy to know what needs your focus, and sometimes it doesn’t.
You can’t “Be Here Now” if you’re multi-tasking. Then, you’re here and there, and there, and there — all at the same time. How can you truly enjoy life and your activities and do them well if you never stop juggling long enough to give 100%?
Sure, life can be simpler if you manage your tasks and do a little multi-tasking. But be careful. If you never give or receive 100%, constant multi-tasking could diminish the true quality of your life.
It’s okay to do only one thing at one time. That just means you’re giving it your all.